[box]“Boat Notes” is a collaboration between Three Sheets Northwest and Swiftsure Yachts to bring you an inside look at interesting new and used boats.[/box]
Here’s our experience photographing and touring the Custom 54-foot yachtfisher Wily King built by Townsend Bay Marine:
As we motored through the Monlake Cut into Lake Washington, a fresh southerly was whipping up a considerable chop north of the 520 bridge. We were out to photograph the Wily King, and the wind and sea state were about as perfect as we could get to show what this purpose-built, 54-foot Pacific Northwest yachtfisher was capable of.
I was invited along to drive the photo boat, Admiral Phormio, and when it came time to open the two boats up, the Wily King flaunted some serious and somewhat surprising pep in her step. We started by having the Wily King run at us at full speed and the first thing we noted from aboard the photo boat was how effortlessly the flared bow threw aside the chop. Being conceived for Pacific Northwest fishing and cruising, the high, flared bow is essential when the wind pipes up and meets current along the Inside Passage.
Later, we ran the boats side-by-side in the low 20-knot range and it was quite impressive to see the 54-foot Wily King keeping pace with the lighter, more agile Nexus 35 Admiral Phormio.
The Wily King was designed to cruise at a variety of speeds and RPMs and with the twin Caterpillar C-18 715-hp engines, her reported engine performance is 7.2 knots and 3 GPH at 600 RPMs; 10.4 knots and 10.2 GPH at 1000 RPMs; 12.7 knots and 24.9 GPH at 1400 RPMs; 20.6 knots and 42.3 GPH at 1800 RPMs; and with a wide open throttle she’ll do 23.7 knots.
We photographed and videoed the Wily King through this entire range of speeds and though she looked comfortable running at speeds in the 20s, I’ll bet most owners would cruise at a more conservative clip somewhere in the mid to upper teens.
A NORTHWEST ORIGINAL
Designed by John L. Anderson Yacht Designs in Kingston, Wily King’s hull was built by Little Hoquiam Shipyard and then delivered via tug to Townsend Bay Marine in Port Townsend. From there, TBM breathed a serious amount of life into the bare hull while completing every stage of the build.
The owner who commissioned Wily King was a veteran of the Pacific Northwest salmon fishing industry and nearly every aspect of the boat was designed to meet his specific needs for a reliable, seaworthy, safe vessel that he could take on fishing and cruising adventures in Southeast Alaska.
In the sparsely populated waters of Alaska, one of the greatest requirements for any cruising or fishing boat is that of low maintenance and high dependability, as mechanics and other boating related services are sparse. And for a boat like the Wily King, self-sufficiency comes in one primary way — quality.
It is no secret that attention to detail when choosing parts and equipment for a yacht is important — cheaply manufactured and installed parts will fail and require more maintenance over the long haul. From propulsion and safety systems to plumbing, electrical and galley essentials, everything aboard Wily King has been designed and installed with reliability as the chief focus. Also, with a 1,200-gallons of fuel and a 180-gallon water capacity, including a Spectra watermaker, the boat can be out for extended periods doing what is was born to do, voyage and fish in remote places.
Beyond her ability to self-sufficiently cruise in isolated areas, Wily King was built as a sport-fishing masterpiece. With an owner who made a living in the salmon fishing industry, the boat spent summers fishing the waters of Southeast Alaska and has the cockpit and equipment to show it.
When I stepped down onto the aft deck, I immediately noticed the tall bulwarks, which are safe, but aren’t too high to impede you from getting lines to a floating dock or fixed pier. A massive fish cleaning station is positioned aft on the bulwarks and is replete with knife storage, cutting board and a saltwater washdown hose to clean up after filleting your catch. Also on the bulwarks, where you’d expect them to be, are rod holders and mounts for downriggers. Eight more rod holders are located on the overhang for the top deck.
One of my favorite touches in the cockpit, though, is the huge chest freezer where you can store your catch and also doubles as a bench seat. And if that’s not enough, an icemaker is set to port beneath the ladder to the top deck. To starboard are controls for the engines and bow thruster, and a large hanging locker to store foul weather gear.
If fishing isn’t for all your guests, then sitting atop the flybridge in the pedestal mounted bucket chairs will be a nice place to take in the scenery. I was a little surprised there was no helm up here, but after seeing the inside helm station, plus the engine controls from the cockpit, I don’t necessary think it would get much use anyway. Also atop the flybridge is a crane for the ship’s tender, storage spaces and a radar mast.
The interior of the Wily King has a distinctly different feel than the more rugged exterior, and after making my way through the impressively stout, watertight sliding door from the cockpit, I headed directly to what I figured would be a notable helm station. What I found was an impressive raised leather captain’s chair with an array of electronics that would thrill any mariner.
From the vantage point of the helm, which is set up a few steps from the main saloon and galley area, you have clear views through large windows in every direction except immediately behind.
The King’s selection of navigation electronics is vast, and since listing every piece would take up space to describe the rest of the interior, you can see a full list here.
Directly behind the helm seat is the breaker panel for all the boat’s systems, a daybed/lounge is set to starboard and a settee for two is to port. These seating areas not only open up the pilothouse area, but will also be an inviting and comfortable space for crew to watch the Inside Passage go by in snotty weather and sea conditions.
Stepping back down from the pilothouse is the expansive main saloon and galley. Set to port is a sprawling L-shaped Corian countertop with built-in stove, cutting board and double sink. Below the counter is a double drawer Subzero fridge and a single door fridge, as well as a row of drawers and a small dishwasher. Above the counter are large windows with shades, glass storage, a microwave and convection oven.
One of my favorite touches in the galley, saloon, pilothouse and passageway forward are the blue resilient sheet vinyl/rubber soles that look great and will provide grip underfoot even when wet. I’ve never come across this type of flooring on a boat before, and think it works exceptionally well on the Wily King.
The Wily King’s cabin layout and appointments are notable for their vast amount storage space and use of teak and white ultraleather to create an open and airy feel. From the main saloon, a few steps down to starboard leads you towards the master cabin forward and guest cabin situated in the middle of the boat. With three bunks that have drawers underneath, and an air and watertight door leading to the engine room, the guest cabin is flat out unique.
Aft of this guest cabin is the walk-in engine room that can be accessed from a floor panel in the cockpit or through the guest cabin. The engine systems have been well conceived, are of top quality and are exceptionally clean. Apart from the helm station, this might be where most experienced mariners will salivate when walking through the boat and has to be been seen to be truly understood.
Forward of the guest cabin is a generously sized stateroom with walk around queen birth and en suite sink, head and shower. And of course, no powerboat of this class could do without a washer and drier, which is located just aft of the forward cabin in the passageway.
THE KING’S WAY
While the Wily King probably isn’t the perfect vessel for the casual boater who wants to get out for some light fishing and cruising on the weekends, it’s not trying to be either.
I envision the Wily King being used by its new owners for what it was designed for — cruising and fishing in remote places. It would also make an exceptional liveaboard cruising, fishing and expedition vessel for a couple that wants to live in comfort while traversing the Inside Passage during the spring, summer and fall year after year.
What I enjoyed most about the Wily King, though, is the fact that every aspect of its design and build was completed right here in the Pacific Northwest by local craftsman who finished the boat in quality fashion. And it is a true reflection of the self-sufficient nature of local boaters. There is something to be said for that, and a great amount of pride to be taken in owning this Northwest original.
For more images and specifications on Wily King visit swiftsureyachts.com.